In 2016, approximately 100 adolescents underwent "gender-affirming" chest reconstruction surgery, according to a research letter published in JAMA Pediatrics. Only a few years later, the number of children receiving the gender-mutilating operations soared to 489, a 389% increase.
Researchers drew on data reported by the Nationwide Ambulatory Surgery Sample to estimate that 1,130 chest reconstructive surgeries were performed on children from 2016 to 2019.
Over 98% of those surgeries were masculinizing mastectomies. Only 1.4% were feminizing, or augmentation, mammaplasties. Of the children who received the chest reconstruction surgery, 19.9% were also placed on hormone therapy.
Researchers noted that genital surgery is "typically not performed on adolescents" but that chest reconstruction surgeries "may be performed in outpatient and ambulatory surgery settings."
The research paper, published Monday, estimated that there are currently 300,000 adolescents in the United States between 13 and 17 years old who identify as transgender.
The patients ranged from 12 to 17, and approximately 5.5% were reported to be under 14. The majority of patients were 17 years old.
In 2019, nearly 78% of children receiving the gender-mutilating surgeries were white.
Approximately 53% of the children who received the "gender-affirming" care reported other disorders. Psychiatric disorders topped the list, with 21.1% of adolescents reportedly suffering from anxiety and another 16.2% battling depression.
"Most TGD adolescents had either public or private health insurance coverage for these procedures, contrasting with the predominance of self-payers reported in earlier studies on TGD adults," the research paper noted.
According to the study, most of the surgeries were covered by private insurance, and 16.5% were funded by public health insurance.
The study, conducted by Vanderbilt University researchers, expressed concern that children looking to transition medically would have their access to surgery restricted.
"Thirty-five state legislatures have introduced more than 100 bills that limit or prohibit access to medically necessary gender-affirming care for transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) youth, resulting in poor mental and physical health outcomes," the study read.After performing nearly five "gender-affirming" surgeries per year on children, Vanderbilt University announced earlier this month that the school would be halting the program.